we've got to change the structure because we are killing the very things that made us great. i wrote this book, not anything i hope to get out of it. i hope to awaken people to what happened. we can have that going on. what do they look like? >> well, hank greenberg, truly an icon of american dismissed. this book, "the aig story" is a must-read for those who are can learn and care that he had tended consequences of governmental regulation of industry, particularly financial institution in the future of the american economy.
thank you for coming today. [applause] >> now ian morris looks at the development of civilizations of the past 15,000 years and uses current measurement for human development to explain what the center for advancement due from the east to the west. this is an hour and 15. >> good evening. i am heidi hsu, president of world affairs council washington and it's my pleasure to welcome me to the world affairs council domain of world affairs today. thank you for joining us for a discussion with ian morris, author of "the measure of civilization." ian morris is a professor of
classics and professor of history at stanford university. a british foreign archaeologist classicist and historian looks for broad pattern and overall shapes and history that cannot millennia, not election cycles, which is a more common timeframe in this town. and churchill is reported to have said the farther backward you, come on the further forward you are likely to see. in this case, dr. morris will help us look into the future because he begins with the last ice age and from their societies east and west. this follows on his 2010 award-winning talk and that they reveal about the future. the intersection of technology and geography and the number of western notch printers in the 18th century that propel the last rise to power in an 18th century and the development of
nuclear weapons in the computer in the 20th century that kept it there. in the 21st century, they will call into question whether the u.s. in particular will remain so. in this second volume, the subject of this evening discussion, dark or morris has said social development, comparing societies in different times and places. adapting the nation's approach based on four principal traits, energy capture per capita, organization information technology and warmaking capacity. we look forward to a fascinating discussion. please join me in welcoming dr. ian morris. >> thank you for that very kind introduction and thank you for coming along on such a beautiful
evening when i'm sure there's a lot of other things you could do i am very happy to be here. it was not such a beautiful day yesterday as you probably noticed. i manage to pick up a rather nasty cold. can you i'll hear me okay? i'm a big croaky tonight, so if i give a completely that's why. it's not just boredom with the whole thing. i'm here this evening to talk about the new book that was just mentioned, "the measure of civilization" published by princeton university press a few weeks ago. this book is based on the idea that the past is not a very good guide to predict the future, but it's the best guide we've got. so what i try to do was look at how we might attend to five broad patterns of human history and use them to get some kind of sense of what might come across the next hundred years or so.
the basic claim i try to make his there are these big pat sense holding on the global scale to tell us about the direction human history is going to be taking. this book provide a five or six years of work i've been doing, trying to answer what has become the biggest question the world historians have been asking, trying to explain planetary light processes. the question is what's been knocking around for two or 300 years. europeans discovered they had a problem. they were taking over the world, that they did know why. nobody quite understood why this is happening to wait until recently europeans could expect to be conquered by a turkish pirate any moment. so scratching their heads, saying why is this happening?
all kinds of new ideas bounced around in the europeans that surprisingly came to the conclusion, i know i were taking over the world. it's because they're better than everybody else. the theory that one out in the competition of ideas is if you look back two and half thousand years to the age of the ancient greeks is the ancient greeks create this unique civilization that is different from and better than any other civilization of the ancient world and is more inventive, more scientific and all other great things gets picked up by the roman and higher, which conquers europe, sprays this idea around europe and the idea gets passed down through the ages until we come to the pinnacle of western civilization, which i'm sure you'll recognize. this series satisfactory had a long successful late because of the 20th century it gets
increasingly challenged. they explained very well in the last 30 or 40 years of the 20th century, as east asian economies really began to take up and boom, lots of people say quite sensibly, this european dominance of the globe comes to the ancient greeks and is locked in. this doesn't seem to make any sense of the world were living in. this can't possibly write. you get these intense debate among historians, which sometimes get quite nasty. some of you may be historians are no historians as delightful people. but they could get a little nasty over these arguments. this is particularly nasty because a lot of time the arguments are confused. what i did assist with fuchsias
over what exactly it is we try to explain. what we mean by the key terms were used, what counts as an explanatory variable and how you would know whether you're right about. so i started getting interested in this question, it seemed to be the best starting point would be to clear through this conclusion we built a. because i'm the person i am, it seems to me the best way to clearly some sort of numerical tool that we can express quantitatively what were talking about income are these things more directly and everybody swears to be on the same page. not suggesting putting him or some things automatically make you more object is. it clearly doesn't understand
the steps involved as objective as any way of approaching history. it forces you to be explicit so if i say this part of the road is 42.8, whatever that means, i have to be able to explain why 42.8, not 42.9 or 42.7. i have to do it to be explicit. it allows people to engage in if i could have bought it makes easier to show that government eyebrows. there's some advantages that arguments like this one, where the whole thing is so messy. so i decided that we needed some numerical and mix it allows us to measure development of societies, compare development over time and see what very best explains the results we get. the arguments all came down to
what i grudgingly started to call social developments. and what i meant -- one of my future is in the world is people who read powerpoint slides. but i'm now about to do this basically because i can't. but this is the idea of social development so you know what it is i'm talking about. social development, the way i think of it comes down to societies ability to get examined the world. but it's a little bit more fully. the bumble of technological subsistence, organizational and cultural accomplishments in which people reproduce themselves can expand the world around them to resolve disputes within their communities can extend their power to defend themselves against other
attempts to defend their power. it's a fairly broad concept. basically it for its ability to master his physical and intellectual environment and this is something we have to be able to measure and compare and look at how much social development different societies have thought. the reason i thought this would be a useful thing to do is the older theories, dhs drinks created civilization that explain the wealth of power in the world. c-series the 20 basically assuming western social developments have a very distant, going back as early long time, two and half years by the time of the check rates, whereas it's criticized a separate entity and they have them that's not the shape of the
development. some assume development have been much the same in many parts of the globe until very recently. authoress in the development and other places has been hired that it was until very recently. the assumption is it's a different shade of the history or social developments also a lot of the theory looking to reach it grease a severe long-term lock-in. if this is locked in to the future. read the other side of the resistance that's not the case. says they see it, these are all quantitative claims. the wicked and argued has been qualitative and accounts for messiness in the debate. said i was only thinking. six or seven years ago. a regional plan is that it's
going to write this book a couple years ago, to write this book, which should give you a narrative explaining the whole shape of everything in world history. but then all the details, all the serious stuff. nobody wants to do boring things like reading books and so on. so i ended up expanding that a few weeks ago as a measure of civilization from the press. the plan tonight is to explain how the social development and tax works as a little bit about what i think it tells us about where the world to be going across the next hundred years. so that's the basic plan. in the introduction, the wise
words of a famous part-time historians, winston churchill quoted the further backwards you can look him in the further forward you might see. to understand social development , we need to look back a long way into the past. that is all the way to the end the last ice age about 15,000 years ago. the reason i say that is to make sense, you need to look at the point in history when you first begin to see different kinds of societies that. in different parts of the world and the world starts to warm up on global warming that has now -- global warming has impacts depending where you live other planets. the end of the last ice age, the effects with some part of the world -- all over the world from
core i call this unimaginatively western societies. the other end of asia, now china, agriculture starts the. the societies that from that core, i call them eastern societies. these western and eastern expand, and what you see here, the dates -- the numbers on the two maps are dates b.c., and to show you the expansion of far. ing over 5,000 years in each case. population grows as you move into farming societies. farmers spread out and push back the hunter-gatherers and surround them. keep moving and taking up larger and larger parts of the world. as they expand over time the areas within each of these eastern-western zones that are the most developed -- they shift around as new kind of geographical advantages appear. so what i do, for my index, i take it back to 15,000b.c., the
end of the last ice age, and compared the eastern and western areas where farming initially began, charted their development over time, and looked at the most developed area within each of these regions. as this changes over time, compare them with each other, calculate development stores and came up with my index. so that is theoretical framework behind it. how i do it. it's easy at the say, this is what i'm going to do, no problem. you then discover quickly, this ahuge problem. how on earth do i do this? sew i stole my idea from somebody else. in this case i got my answer from the unitees nations. 'back in at the late '8s, the wise people at the u.n. decided it would be kind of useful to have some simple numerical infection that gave you one
score, say you were interested in invest your money in different parts of the world. it would help to give you one number which tells you how well the different governments in the world are doing creating situations to help citizens realize their potential. so the u.n. has a human development index. so they wanted a number for each country. the economyis are smart guys, and this -- you can't measure. the only thing you can do is narrow it down. and they said what we need to do is narrow down human development to the smallest possible number of traits that cover more or less what the u.n. means talking about human development in this
case the index, three traits were more or less covered. and it's not perfect but it is a snapshot. the traits they came up with, if they measure life expectancy at birth. levels education. and real wages. lifetime earnings. and these three trait -- this doesn't cover everything we mean by human development. but it covers the important things, and once you've murder these three things you can bundle them together, weight the traits and come up with a score for each country in the world, and the u.n. does it every year, and the latest one came out last week. i don't know if you saw it. i've been told as always, norway is number one. incredibly boring index. norway always number one. now, what i wanted to do was sort of similar to this. a little different because my social development is different then their human development.
but i thought about it, and i felt that four traits would more or less caption what i wanted to talk about. at least four traits. energy an -- captured per person, then social organization. do they have the ability to organize themselves to accomplish things? information technology. how able to store information, disseminate it, the ease of accessing storage. and then, last but not least, warmaking capacity. has to be a big part of the story. these trait don't cover everything but they cover most of what i mean by social development. each trait has its own challenges, and there are a lot of areas to argue about when you start doing this kind of work. each trait has it open challenges, but i think all four are measurable within tolerable
limits of error. , across the last 15, 16,000 years, which is what i need to do. so, the way the index works, i go back to 14,000bc, the end of the ice age and end in the year 2,000a.d. that is a round number and partly that gives us a few years to assess what has been happening since. now, to get the index done, i said, okay, let's make it simple. let's set a theoretical maximum possible development score for the year 2000ad of one thousand points. when the united nations human development index is 1.0. but it doesn't matter what number you put on it. the biggest fights they have had over their index have been over the weighting of the three different traits, and i i just
have no particular reason for weighting one of these trait over the other. even if i did have a reason, there's no good way to do it. so weighted all four traits equally, which may be wrong about the only way to do it. so a thousand points is the maximum possible score. so four traits equal. 2 ices the highest you can score on any trait. and you bundle them together to get your actual scores out of 1,000. talking about these sorts of things, i always find it makes much more sense to look at the actual examples. i'm not going to take you on a death march through the four traits because you would want to kill yourself if i did. i will just take you to one, and that is a social organization. picking this because it is easy to explain quickly. the technical problems. there are some pretty serious
technical problems. what i did to measure social organization, i took another shortcut, stole another idea, this idea from economists, who often will use the size of the largest city in the region as a quick shortcut to give you the sense of level of comeplexty of organization in that society. it's not perfect, and i'm sure you can think of ways you might want to object to using this. but it does seem to wok reasonably well and it is a nice simple way to do things. so, to measure social organization, what i did was just look at the size of the largest settlement we know of, back to the late ice age in the eastern and western regions. the way this works, like i was just saying, 250-points is the highest possible score you can get on traits. on each of the four. so the biggest city in the history of the world will score 250 points. now, this graph -- we have two
pairs of column us. the pair on the right is 2,000 ad. the blue color is western world on a vertical scale we have points on the development index up to 250 points. the red column on the far right, goes up to 250 points. this is because the biggest city in the world up to the year 2000 was tokyo. according to a source i chose to use. the economist pocket book in figures. that assured me in the how to tokyo had 27-point. billion residents. it's the biggest city in the history of the year. so, 250-points, but 26.7 million people, means that 106,800 people would score you one point. new york city, in the year 2000, had 16.7 million people.
so you divide that by 106,800 which consecutive gives you the blue column. that was easy, my score for the year 2000, because the answers were there for me nene economist world and figures. go back to very back into the past. how about the year 1900? in that year some debate among historians but most agree london was the biggest city in the world. london had about 6.6 million people roughly in the year 1900. divide that again by 106,800, and in 1900, the western core scored 61.8 points. biggest city in the east in 1900 is tokyo again, 1.75 million people. divide by 106,800 people.
tokyo scores 16.37 points, which is what you see in the red column on the left. so i just keep doing this. 1800, 1700, 1600, so on. the nature of the evidence changes, the margin of error fluctuate getting into archeological material. so we get down to settlements of 1,000 people which scored .01 points, and i stopped point. what you get for the one trait of social organization, you get this graph with dates along the bottom, and the sizes of the settlements on the vertical column there. the red line for the eastern world, the blue line for the western world. a series of data points all the way back to that 7500b.c. in the west, and the wept -- the point which you start seeing the count. this is unimpressive graph.
so the next graph is just the same set 0 data points. but plotted on to a long linear scale. what it means is you have dates along the bottom from 8,000 bc to 2,000 ad. and you'll see each understood you go up the scale you're measuring ten times as many points even. 0.1 to 1 to 10. this is a great way to keep track of your credit card debt. and allows you to see what is happening earlier on in the graph. so that's what i did for social development. then i did it again for each of the three outrates. bundled them all together to produce a single social development score. scores going back to the end of the ice age to decide how well i did that. obviously what you need to do is buy my book and ten -- take it
home and read it. but for the minute you have to trust me. what do we get? this is the graph of social development scores we come with. and even more unimpressive graph. dates on the bottom blue line west, red line east. social development score, zero to one thousand up the vertical axis. this is the same data plotted again on a log linear scale so we can see more clearly what is going on in the earlier period, and this is very interesting. a lot of stuff going on here. first thing you see is the similarity of the lines. the blue western and red eastern lines. very similar, really. second thing that jumped out at me is the qualitative change in the data in just the last couple hundred years. you get to the right-hand side of the graph and it shoots up, a
massive increase since the industrial resolution. what really surprised me, the blue western line is higher than the red eastern line for 90% of the time since he owned the ice age i had not expected that. about there's a period over toward the right-hand side of the graph where the red line is clearly higher than the blue line. this is 1200 years. from about the sixth century ad to the 18th century. another thing we see, the lines generally -- social development has generally risen sense the end of the ice age but there are periods of stagnation and even collapse, and that's what we need to explain. if we're going to answer the big question why the west rules. in the book i wrote with that title, the explanation for this, i suggested was basically geography drove this. geography determines social
development. and social development determines what geography means. which drives the centers and wealth of power around the world, makes history so messy and complicated. but that's what i wrote about in why the west rules the world. i am going stick to the index and say a few things about other stuff that is perhaps interesting about this index. now, i'm sure you figured this out for yourself, but moving from the sort of evidence that we're working with, which is mostly broken stuff in the ground. here you see me, 20 years ago, digging up broken stuff in the ground from greece, and this involved a lot of technical steps, all of which are under challenge in debates. because of all the technical steps involved, if you ask me, is this right? is this true? the answer to that is clearly no.
this is wrong. my graph is wrong. but i would then say quickly, before you get up and leave, that is actually the wrong question to ask. you should not ask whether it's wrong because by definition we're always going to be wrong. the question you want to ask is how wrong is this? is this so wrong that the entire patent i tried to explain is actually misguided? doesn't reflect history at all. or is it just wrong enough, wrong enough we can live with it. and i, of course, think it's fine. at it wrong but it's fine. not too wrong. wrong enough we can live with it. and the reason i say that, if -- say for the sake of argument i have systematically underestimated western development scores by 10%. and overestimated eastern one biz 10%. we could correct for that by arbitrarily raising the blue line by 10%, dropping the red line by 10% and see what happens. this is what happens if you do
that. you still have a pattern where the western number is higher. but the basic pattern to be explained hasn't changed. if the error goes the other way and we should be raising the red eastern line and throwing blue line, this is the pattern. now the lines are much closer together. but the blue western line is still higher than the eastern line since the end of the ice age. a basic problem. to make the problem go away we have to assume i was 20% off with these estimates. so if we raise the western line by 20 temperature, drop the eastern one by 20's, then western development is always higher than eastern development since the ease age and my explanation is clearly wrong, unnecessarily complicate, somebody that already happened the ice age which locked in western dominance. but this cannot be right: we can be absolutely certain this
is wrong. because if this chart were right that would mean the romeian imspear had higher development than japannin' 1900, which cannot be right. i cannot be systematically 20% off with my numbers because that would produce insane results. so i'm less than 20% wrong. i we flip it around, raise the eastern scores 20%, drop the western scores 20%, this time we get this graph. where the eastern scores are almost always higher than the western. get, i got the pattern wrong. this is completely different from what i thought i needed to explain. but again, this has to be wrong. this means that in ancient times , before 1,000b contribution was more developed than the persian empire, which no historian would agree. also means in 1840, at the start of the opium war, china was more developed than britain. that cannot be right. so on the numbers can't be
systematically 20% off. the margin of error is smaller than that. a margin of error i think we can live with because if we move the margins out far enough to falsify the claims i'm making, we end up with results that don't make any sense. so, okay. last thing want to talk about. the most interesting thing about this index. i think that if you -- if we succeed in creating a new mire cal index and identifies the broad pattern of history, we ought to be able to project some trends forward, make assumptions and see what happens if they play out. the next graph is what the future -- the next 100 years will look like. if we make a certain assumption, development continues rise neglect 21st century at the same speed it rows in the 20th 20th century. if that happens this what the future will look like. you see the red eastern line
catches witch the blue western line in the year you probably want to make a note of this -- in the year 2103. nice precise prediction. so also told if you're going to make predictions you should make sure that when they play out, you are already dead. so 2103 is a perfect prediction. but i think think the most interesting thing about the graph is not where the lines cross on the horizontal data but where they cross on the vertical axis, where they cross in 2103, that's in roughly 5,000 points. now, to get from the cave paintings to the world affairs council this evening, that took 900 points. to get from us this evening to 2103, that will take 4,000 points. more than four times as much change as the world has seen in
the last 15,000 years. now, that i think is an extraordinary hypothesis, and like i say this is a conservative assumption. the changes we have seen in the last 12-13 years, suggests this graph underestimates the speed of change. however, like i said, all this graph does show us what will happen if we play out certain assumptions. if we look back at history -- i have to look back -- look back at this long run of history. one thing i mentioned you see how development stagnates and even declines. sometimes you get agrees great social collapses. the fall of the romeen empire. the black death. that is what lies in store for news the 21st century. i you look back at these earlier episodes of these great social
collapses, each time we see the same five forces involved. always come up. we see mass migration, bigger than the government's they can cope with. because they're unable to cope, these migrations drive epidemic disease. they merge disease pool that were previously separate. a mass dieoff, a third of the population, governments collapse. as the governments collapse, trade routes collapse because we can't police these things. and massive famines ensue, and then we get climate change you don't need me to tell you these five forces crop up a lot. any news magazine you pick up can these five things tend to show up that week. that's a scary future. seems to me perfectly possible that this is what the 21st 21st century holds, rerun of the great collapses of the past but with one big difference. the romans did not have this. if the romans had nuclear
weapons, i can guarantee you, they would have used them. we have nuclear weapons. as many of you will know, for every 20 warheads in the world in 1986, there's now only one. that's the good news. the bad news is we can build more really, really fast. it seems to me if we stumble into the kind of collapse that could derail soaring social development, i find it inconceivable it will not lead to nuclear war, which is a very bleak projection to make. one way or the other, the 21st 21st century will be a time of extraordinary discontinuities. but 21st century will bring either transformation of what it means to be a human being, or a disaster that basically leads to the same thing, transtransformation of being a human being. to wrap up, we can measure social development across thousands of years.
the measurements are always going to be controversial and contested but that's okay, because the errors are going to be within a manageable framework. the measuring suggests to me, as a lot of people concluded, we should expect global balance of power to shift in the 21st 21st century. we can probably expect the united states to romaine the center of the world -- remain the world's center of gravity for the next generation, quite probably for the next two generations, probably not the next three generations. that's most important. suggest that history is speeding up. the 21st century will be a race between shifts in the balance of power, transformation of history, and potential catastrophe. now, the thing that worries me a bit about the work i've been doing, these great shifts in the balance of power around the world in the past, have always been accompanied by mass violence. not a single exception to that.
this is such a big part of the human story. and there's an awful lot to worry about. but i bring you good tidings. i think it's all going to be okay. i think been there's reason to be optimistic. when you look back over the long run of history, humans have learned to manage violence very successfully. cross the last hundred dread thousand years, and as many of you probably know, your chance of dying violently is roughly one-tenth of what it would have been if you had been born in the stone age society, an extraordinary reduction, largely because of this i'm confident the future will look like this. the future is not going to be night fall and return of catastrophe. the future will be richer, safer, and more amazing than ever. so, on that happy note, i will leave you. thank you for coming out this evening. thank you. [applause]
>> thank you for the talk and for your books. i have one question. have you got a graph of the human population going along with your social development index? and what is your projection of the human population in 2100? >> great question. this question often comes up when i talk about this stuff. it's such an important issue. when you plot world population against development levels, it's immediately striking. i'm sure this is the reason behind the question. the lines are similar and there's a feedback process through most of history between development and population size. one of the things that seems to drive up development is growing population, and i think partly because this brings new problems on society, partly because it
gives you more people and more ideas bouncing around, more crowded world where communication moves quicker. so, on the one hand i need to -- population size is pushing development forward. on the other hand depth has to rise if populations are going to continue rising. if development doesn't right, the population will stagnate and people are starving and bad things happen and population crashes. the second part of the question where i see population going in the 21st century. yes. i think the u.n. demographers have revised their estimates. they're now suggesting the population is still growing, but the speed at which it's growing is slowing down, and probably the population is going to reach a peak and even start coming down again before the end of the century. i think the number they're now suggesting is 10 billion for global population. so, obviously, this figure --
seven billion, so significantly bigger population. what this means for the index, for thinking about where things are going, -- i could go on about this all night but won't. it's a fascinating problem. i suspect one of the thing happening here is that -- this index was created to look at 15,000 years of history. one of the challenges is to make it work -- it's only going to work if you're able to identify variables which continue to be relevant across the whole period you're looking at, and we're now entering a period of change that is so rapid, that some of these forces are beginning to break down and be transformed into entirely new things. i think demograph is going to be one of these, and it's easy to spin out lotoses lots of science fiction stories but any since that food production will begin
break old constraints with the green revolution and the changes. but we're going to go dramatically further with that. and also go dramatically further with the break and the link between six and reproduction. sex will become something people do for fun, rather handto have more babies, and that's going to go way, way further. i think we're going to see fewer pressures to have more babies, which is this already happening. i think we're going to see the generation of -- insofar as we continue to create more and more humans we're going to do it in entirely new kinds of ways, and cloning is one obvious way. a shift of human mental activity on to noncarbon platforms, shifting your mental activity on to computers. another thing that to some extent i think is likely to happen. so, great question because it
gets you into all of these other things that are going on. i'll stop there. >> in looking at your premises, i wonder whether -- this is a bit from left field -- i wonder whether you took into account isolated societies, such as the tis tibetans, which developed a very comprehensive structure based upon internal dynamics of the human condition, rather than the externalities. did that enter into your thinking at all or was this primarily on the material plane you were considering social development? >> yes. another great question. what you're talking about is a very different source of developments, and for what i was doing, my work was driven by the core question about trying to explain why it was particular group of societies, mostly
around the shore office the north atlantic ocean, came to dominate the world the last couple hundred years, and as i saw it, this is driven by social development in the sense i defined it, which is very different than the sense you were defining it in. so partly i wasn't looking at that sort of thing partly because i think it doesn't directly address the question as i was trying to answer it. also, because that's the thing that is very, very difficult to measure. i'm sure you're aware. i don't even know where you would begin measure something like that. so, for what i was doing, or anything i couldn't measure, couldn't be part of the index. but that cuts to the heart of what i think is a potential big challenge to an index, doing this sort of thing. i would say there's some three main ways you can challenge the work i'm doing. one would be to build on the question you asked, and to say, well, measuring stuff about societies, this is just the
wrong way to think about everything. this is completely misleading. the whole effort you have been doing is a waste of time, and obviously i don't think that or i wouldn't do it. it's a valid criticism. i think it's wrong but it's a valid criticism. the second way to challenge, measuring, they the way to go, but the ideaes social development i'm working with. it's bone-headed. a wrong thing to look at. third objection, somebody say, yes, measurements great, social development, fine, but the traits you have used are wrong. just not a good way to measure it. the last way i think to attack it is to say, measurement greats, traits, you picked the right ones but you did it wrong. i bungled the research and got it all wrong. so i think there's four main way to attack this and i obviously think they're all four incorrect. but i'm willing to pretend to
listen to somebody who objects. >> thank you. to what extent does your index measure gaps in development when you look at the north/south, and i'm thinking, for example, if you look at the social development measure you used, if you used population size, let's say you chose sao paulo with huge cities and very different socioeconomic composition, et cetera, and the issues they face, from tokyo. i'm just curious as to hey applicable is the index to answering a very similar question that comes up but in the north/south context. >> that's a fascinating thing to get into. like i said i was carrying eastern and western development. trying to answer a very
particular question. but there's absolutely no reason not to do this with any part of the world you're interested in. so i -- lately been working with the index and comparing development in the new world, and the old world. very interesting. but the north/south comparison, africa is a really interesting case for this, because at the very beginning of my index, if you projected back another 40, 50,000 years, say, 60 or 70,000 years. africa would have the highest level of development because it's the only place where humans have evolved in eastern southern africa. then the they start moving out of africa, move to the other parts of the world, and this i think is a great illustration of what i was saying during the talk, what seems to me to be the driving force behind the shape
the world history has taken. africa takes a lead early on in social development. but then as humans -- then also because humans developed in africa first you get much more biological diversity in humans in africa than anywhere else in the world. humans have been there longer. so you might expect africa to retain the lead in development over the long run because it gets this early start. but what happens is people spread out of africa into these lucky latitude regions across the old world, particularly southeast asia, and when the ice age ends these areas outside of africa, the only place where domestic plants and animals have evolved for people to domestic ate. but it takes a lot longer because it's harder to do
there's much fewer domesticable plants and animals. so eventually stop building cities and governments and all this stuff, but it happened later because geography changes its meaning. geography allows people to build more complex societies. that they do so they sailed around the coast of africa, coming back into africa. so it's like somebody built a wall around africa in 1,000 bc. africa would develop on its own trajectory, and basically lacking, what, about three or four thousand years behind the western area because it gets a later start because of the plants and animals. but it will eventually get on the path. you have developed societies who start colonizing africa. so the indexes are a useful tool for looking at these things, and
directs attention toward what are the thing wes need to explain here about world history? so, yeah, i think bundling up the things could be an interesting exercise. >> thank you. professor, for an interesting talk. my name is ryan. i wanted to press you on your definitions of east and west and what they might mean in the coming centuries. you have to forgive me. seems like your definition start with geography and then as societies develop and become able to do your four indicators over a larger geographic area, expansion of the cultural, political practices associated with those various societies. in the context of globalization, and as society seems increasingly able to do these things in a larger scale and some conversion in political,
cultural, social practice. in 2103, when east passes west, what would that really mean? something we should care about? >> yes. yes. i was writing the book it increasingly struck me -- my become is called "why the west rules for now." increasingly struck me, that was not actually what the book was about at all. which is a depressing feeling when you're an author to realize you have written an entire book about something else you thought you were writing about. seems to happen to me a lot. trying to understand the implications behind your question. what i -- the conclusion i came to was this whole thing about east and west. it's just not going to matter very much by 2103. if anything like this graph turns out to be the way the world is going. this is up to 5,000 points the big story as i see it, is
geography determines social development. where you live in the world determines how you society develops. at the same time how our society develop determines what the meaning of geography. the speed at which it changes has been accelerating, and in a sense globalization goes back to the origins of humanity, humans spread out on the planet. societies get bigger and bigger, more and more complex, longer and longer distant contact, and the process is speeding up. so by the 21st century, we've reached the point where now, in some sense you can say that geography has lost some meaning, and i just flew out here from california a few days ago itch i had to sit in a tin tube, a red eye -- i arrive in new york
city, i feel like death, and to me it felt like geography has not lost much of its meaning so far. five hours in a tin tube. because if this had been 100 years ago, 1913, somebody gets a chance to get to san francisco from new york in five hours they would have jumped at that and thought geography has already lost meaning. certain things that can be done now in digital platforms, space really has lost all its meaning. and my guess is that one of the big thursday in the 21st 21st century would be the continuing collapse of space, and that is one of the huge transformations of just everything. so that if the world goes up to the 5,000 points thing, i think physical space as we conceive of it, i would suspect is no longer going to mean anything at all. i think in one sense a big lesson you can draw out of this development index. attachment, though, it's one of the big challenges to the development index.
because what it seems to suggest is that everything that has been happening in the past 15,000 years is about to be swept away by the change in the world. the changes we're seeing in one sense are just more examples of the kinds of processes that go back 18,000 years, and another sense they're utterly different from anything the world has experienced before. so, whether it -- that leaves us, i don't know. but that's where your question takes us. >> thanks for being here. >> thank you. >> i'm from the world affairs council. i'm sure you mees of the people in the room, are really aware of diamond's work which really gives a brilliant narrative of much out what your stats are trying to show, and i'm sure what you're trying to do is be able to quantitate it, et cetera mitchell only question was, your first diagram looked fabulous to me. i was sitting back and -- unless
my eyesight is wrong, your east and west lines were perfect live attuned to events in history. but then you said that they didn't match up to your criteria, and so you changed them. and that you said you -- up or down 20%, and i just wondered how you did that or should you have done that in trying to make an exact exact quantitative thing? >> yes. i am a great fan of diamond0s work. there's been historians saying that geography is a driving force in history as far back as history goes. the big claim was that geography drove the course of history. hittans of the last 50 or 60 years have been skeptical and backed away from it. the huge achievement of steel, was that it put geography back
in the driver's seat and showed us the vital importance of taking a long view of history. if you have to understand the big patterns you cannot do this by looking at a century. you most must go back thousands of years. so there are way mist arguments do differ from general diamonds. but i think he has been the most important scholar in recent years in putting this back in the driver's seat. the second part of your question about, what happens if we move the scores? i was doing that to just give you a sense of what i would say is the robustness of the estimates. i don't think that the lines, the 10% lines, are more or closer to the truth than the score showed you. this is just to show you if i were 10% off on everything i did, the biasic pattern would still be correct. i would need to be 20% off in all my estimates, and i could be confident i'm not 20% off because if i were we would then have results that flatly
contradict history. and the scores are absolutely right on every detail, and in my wilder moments i'm convinced they are but i know they're not. so the question we always have to ask, am i right? you will never be right. the only sensible question, how wrong is this? so terribly wrong that the basic pattern is not true? or just sort of, yeah, the kind of wrongness that seems to apply to everything i do in life. a little bit wrong and you muddle through. so, i do stand by my numbers. they're the alternative is just to show how much margin of error we can safely have. >> american university. a big fan of muddling through. my first question is, why -- maybe there's more in the book -- today you explained the
city size and you said you took at the base line to 2000. it would strike me to make more sense for a baseline when cultural societies weren't that mixed through globalization, and my related question, you predict the future, but a thousand years ago societies developed independently more or less. today they certainly don't. so the more you have overlapping or homogenizing society the more i have to ask, my can you predict back? and my home company is norway. norway is the number one -- i think norway would come out badly. >> yeah, gosh. can i -- remind me -- >> baseline -- >> oh, me, yes. >> cultures getting mixed up,
homogenized globalization. >> then norway. yes, thank you. one of the neat things you can do in an index like this, you can set it up in all kinds of different ways. so somebody who wanted to could take the data i gathered and say exactly what we said in the first question. it would be more interesting to set the base line in the year one. back in time to the roman empire and the hung dynasty in china. that wouldn't be very useful. or set the baseline back further still. i you go back far enough, africa has the highest levels of social development because it's the only plate with humans. that becomes almost impossible to see if you set the baseline in the year thousand ad. because the numbers are so low. so if we set shut pace line back to 10,000 bc that would make difficult to look at anything in recent history because the
numbers explode. but look at what is happening early on. a lot more detail. also changed the balance between the traits. all kinds of interesting ways. and other things you can do, do like the log linear graph i showed you. i con distribute u instructed -- constructed those by calculating the sum of scores on the four traits and then summed them. you can do it a different way, which is by calculating the four traits and the log go rhythm of each one separately and then summing the logs together, which give us you an index which is wildly more sensitive deeps in early history and shows you some things moore effectively and other things less effectively. that's the palestine with -- the bottom line with this stuff, lies, damn lies and statistics. i chose the 2000 ad baseline thing because i thought that showed most clearly of all the ways i could display the numbers, what happened in the last few hundred years and the
extent to which they both continue and break with the past. you can set it up in many different way that would show you all kinds of different things. about mixing cultures, yes, i would agree pretty much with what you're saying. this is one of the things you see operating over the long run of history. you go from many, many thousands of largely separate cultures. people do get together even in the ice age and compare the larger groups, but basically if you lived ice aim, your world would consist of a or so people, and you would move around a lot. so the scenery would change but the faces wouldn't. then later on you get into your farming societies, where the scenery doesn't change. people toned stay put but the faces change. thousands of people. as these societies get bigger and more complex, people
traveling further further and further, so that by 2000 b.y. you get objects from the shores of the atlantic to the sores of the pacific. by 200 ad the dna suggests there were at lest a few people who were traveling themselves from the mediterranean to china or china to the met -- met terrainan. and basically the long story is more and more integration, which this affects very much what we should be looking at and thinking about and measuring, and i think one consequence of acceleration of global corrections in the 21st 21st century is the disappearance of these concepts of east and west as useful analytic tools. if you go back 10,000 years, east and west are not very useful analytic tools in our age of farming and then fossil
fuels, they become very important tool. s in the distant future they'll wisconsin will cease to be useful tools. norway is incredibly dull cup trick always number one, everybody wants to live there but wouldn't come out on the very top of social development index because the social development index is looking at things rather different from the human development index. on the social development index, one of the being things is the ability of communities to impose their will on the world around them. i would -- you may perfectly reasonably say that's that the sort of thing we ooh speak looking at can -- should be looking at but if you want to answer the question i'm starting about. why the distribution of power and wealth came to about -- be what it is, you need to look at this so the score core is in the united states and the core was shifted around. for the long time it was in the eastern mediterranean.
now it's very firmly in north america. and north america scores highest within the western world than all of the four traits. norway, the western europe, is obviously -- scores very highly on the social development index. not as highly as north america. the index is actually rather an interesting way to think about some of these debates about your future is likely to led uss in 1900 western europe arguably was the core of the west and did have the highest development scores. i think the inaddress possibly might -- index possibly might be useful to why the balance of power has shifted in the west. so thank you for the questions. >> i'm chris. i thought it interesting that you picked 2103. but i want to give you your
opinion what you think the future is beyond that? many hundreds of years or a thousand years more. >> that's a good one to -- difficult one to answer as you probably imagine. for the sake of argument, you assume everything i said is correct, which is always a good assumption, by the time we get to 2103 and a world of 5,000-points, we're looking at a planet absolutely unlike anything we can imagine. the next -- if that's what happens, the next hundred years is going to see much more change then the previous 100,000 years, and in some ways, the last hundred years has already seen more changes in the previous hundred thousand years. particularly what it means to be human. if we could take somebody in the year 1900, or even better, 1800, transport them here this evening, drop them in this room, they would be astonished. they'd look around and say, there's so many old people in
here. look at them. and then they would look at you and they would say, not only old but they're healthy. old people with teeth. what is going on here? they're not blind or death. the joints are not plaguing them. and old is like over 40. to any earlier age in the world, this is the -- the way we live now is absolutely unimaginable. it's harry potter world we now live in. give thanks to the interventions in medicine, public health, hygiene, and just diet. diet is one of the big things. the human body now typically we today are globally i'm talking, not just rich countries -- globally we're four inches taller. live 30 years longer and 50% heavier than people have ever been before in history. we're much more than 50% healthier. we do magical things to ourselves. some of you in this room may be doing magic at this moment if you have a pacemaker.
this is something you fused you body with technology. we have a guy ran in the last olympic games, sprinter with no legs, ran in the olympic games. he then went on and shot his girlfriend which spoils the story slightly. this is magic that these things can happen, and of course we have only begun to scratch the surface. these changes will go muff, much further, and it's easy to start throwing out prefixes about precisely where they will take us. i love reading those science technology futurists put we have no way to know if any preticks is right or not mitchell -- or not. my guess would be the big thing will be the fusion of human and machine. i would suspect this is going to be true. the question is, how far is that going to go? will it go the way in of the technologists suggest, get to the point where humanned and
machines are fused completely, and there's the sort of global consciousness out there on the silicon platform, and sloppy west carbon based humans. we'll be an an an an -- i think this will be the big change. because of that my guess would be, to try to answer your question what it would look like in a three, four, five hundred years, suspect it's going to look something that we cannot begin to imagine. because this would be like if we had been the neanderthals, dragging our knuckles on the ground, and they didn't. they were actually very smart. their brains were bigger than our brains. they may have been able to talk kind of, but a question like the one you just asked me, would have been meaningless to the neanderthal. we can be pretty confident. because our world would just be totally unimaginable to the
neanderthal, and i suspect the world two or three hundred years out will be totally unimaginable to modern human beings, unless, of course, we blow it all to pieces with nuclear weaponed and then we get one that i prefer not to imagine. >> i'm jason from george washington university. i just wanted to ask the about one of the four categories, energy capture. i didn't have an idea how you calculate that or what it is. >> yes. when i give longer talks about my book, i make things -- nothing is not done could talk locker but when i do, energy captures, there's a trait i focus on most. it is a bit of more complicated and in all of these traits have their own problems. the energy capture -- you're
right to single this out because that's the most important trait. some of my economists friends suggested i'm being unduly fussy. only one they say. energy capture drives everything else. the other three trait are about how people use energy. the capture is the big thing. what i did for the energy capture, i looked, like i did with the social organization, look at what is the highest level of energy capture on record in the year 200 ad, it was united states where the average american burned through 22le -- a staggering amount of energy we're burping -- burning through. if i if you eat 2,000 calories a day you'll maintain your weight and be healthy. average americans consume 4,368 -- maybe 3,468 -- which is
a lot. which is i would all of us have some issues with this. what we dethe calories we eat are relatively expensive calories. most of us eat fancier things than bread. and people have this handy rule of thumb. if you lived entirely on meat you would need a ten to one conversion ratio. one calorie of meat has taken ten calories of grain to feed that animal to produce that calorie. so you would be consuming 35,000 calories. say your favorite dish and all you eat is lion. you have another ten to one ratio. so it takes ten calories of cow to produce one calorie of lion, ten calories of grain to produce a calorie of